Smyrna officials continue to investigate the cause of the five-hour power outage that occurred in town Thursday evening.
Town Manager Dave Hugg said Friday morning via an email that the town-wide outage was caused at the main feed, which is at the substation at the Smyrna Business Park. The issue was a result of a malfunctioning control module.
Hugg compared the issue to when a computer locks up. The control module in the substation failed causing the system to lockout at the main feed, which shut down the entire substation.
“We eventually were able to bypass and take feed from DEMEC to re-energize the transformer and get back in service,” Hugg said in the email.
The outage started at around 4:30 p.m. Thursday and continued for most of the town until 9 and 10 p.m. Hugg said an isolated area at Sunnyside Apartments was without power until about 11 p.m.
Mayor Joanne Masten said Friday that town staff worked with the town’s electrical engineers – Downes Associates – and plant operators from the Delaware Municipal Electrical Cooperation facility (DEMEC) to get the power back on.
Masten said a main breaker had to be manually reset and re-energized before power could be restored. Adding to the issue was the fact that the recharging system for the breakers wasn’t functioning properly.
Downes Associates was onsite Friday to further investigate the failure.
“The town did all it could to get the power back up as quickly as possible,” Masten said.
The electrical outage put residents in a slight panic. Some people questioned whether or not the town had paid its utility bill; Masten said the town had paid its bill. The outage also caused some traffic woes. Smyrna Interim Police Chief Norman Wood said local fire police were out directing traffic since the outage knocked out the traffic lights. Phone lines were down for some time at the Smyrna Police Department.389
Furthermore, Masten said the town had been working in conjunction with Councilman John Embert and the Smyrna School District Thursday night to locate a shelter for residents when the power came back on around 9:30 p.m. If the power hadn’t returned, the town would’ve put a shelter at Smyrna Middle School.
“It was 9:30 and we needed a shelter for people to go until the power was turned back on,” Masten said. “Thank God it turned on soon after that.”
Smyrna business owner Karen Gill wasn't at her story - Royal Treatments - when the power went out but her husband, Woody, was. Royal Treatments is located on South Main Street.
Gill said since the power outage was in the late afternoon, it didn't necessarily affect her business since business hours were almost up.
"My husband said the power went out and everything just went dead," Gill said. "There were no customers, no traffic lights. The only people out there were business owners who were kind of just walking around. It was late in the day so it didn't really affect us but it did force us to close about 45 minutes early."